Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Host a Cocktail Hour or Wine Tasting for the Holidays

The holidays are a celebratory time that helps to reconnect with family and friends. These joyous occasions often occur in our homes, and while we all would like to believe that we're entertainment-ready, it's helpful to have a little notice. Hosting a small party for family and close friends can be a great way to bring people together without investing a substantial amount of time.

If you are seeking a solution that will be both memorable and relatively easy, we recommend hosting a wine tasting or cocktail party. 

The Advantages of a Smaller Event

When you invite people to a cocktail hour or wine tasting, you manage their expectations. They are aware that your event will include alcohol and food but not a full dinner. It also has a finite time frame since these types of parties usually have a one-hour to three-hour lifespan. 

Additionally, you can schedule your small party at an earlier time. That way, guests with conflicting plans can excuse themselves and continue on to their other obligations. Finally, there are several different approaches to serving cocktails or conducting a wine tasting, and all are conducive to both small and large spaces. 

Steps to Hosting a Small Event

1. Choose a Date

Weekend nights between Thanksgiving and New Year are at a premium. If you want to have a weekend event, set your start time early. “We’d like to welcome you to our home for a cocktail hour starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.”

2. Procure Alcohol, Mixers, and Garnishes

You are not required to have every ingredient for your cocktail hour, nor do you have to purchase 20 different bottles of wine for your tasting.

For a cocktail hour – stock essential drink ingredients or preannounce the drink menu. “Guests will have a selection of cocktails including the Old Fashioned, Vodka Martini, or our Signature Margarita.” This approach lets guests know that if they want something else, they should bring the ingredients. 

For a wine tasting – Tasting pours are two to three ounces, which means a bottle of wine has about 10 taste servings. If you’re hosting eight or more people, purchase two bottles for each vintage and serve a minimum of five different types of wine. You can preannounce the wine or just let it be a surprise for your guests. Expect to buy 8 to 12 bottles. 

3. Serve Light Foods

Keep it light and prepare in advance with these popular snack items:

  • Charcuterie Boards have become extremely popular in recent years, and they are an ideal selection for both wine tastings and cocktail parties. You can prepare a charcuterie board in advance, cover it with plastic wrap or foil, and serve it right out of the refrigerator. 
  • If you have a sommelier you trust, ask them which cheeses pair well with the wines you’re planning on serving. Like a charcuterie board, you can slice the cheese in advance and place small cards in front of each one to let guests know which wine to pair with each cheese. 
  • Crudité is another great option — particularly if you have a vegetarian or vegan friend. Like the other suggestions, you can do the prep in advance without worrying about it going bad. 

4. Choose Your Setting 

These types of parties are perfect for smaller condos and apartments, but even if you have a large Florida home, you can host them in a single room. In fact, selecting a smaller area within your home may make the event cozier and more intimate. The obvious choices are the dining room, kitchen, or living room. 

Here are some examples of spaces that would be ideal for a smaller holiday party and some suggestions for how you can utilize each space. 

This open-space dining area features the Coastal Rectangle Dining Table from Hooker Furniture’s Surfrider Collection. Seating eight people, the table is large enough to hold several bottles of wine, a selection of cheeses, wine glasses, and small plates. The host can either take the head of the table or walk around and pour as they present each new wine. 

One of the most essential pieces of entertainment furniture you can own for your home is a long buffet. The surface area can be used as a bar, while the hidden storage is ideal for keeping spare glasses, plates, or silverware. If you have a piece like the Carol Benson-Cobb Slated Four-Door Credenza in your dining room or living room, you could place cocktail ingredients and glassware on one end and your charcuterie board and plates on the other. Guests can mix their own drinks and help themselves to the delicious meats and cheeses. 

For a smaller group of maybe four to six people, you can always arrange the party around a coffee table on the patio or in the living room. This Key Largo Cocktail Table from the Tommy Bahama Home Island Estate Collection has a hexagonal shape, so it’s perfect for six guests. You can place a tray of finger foods or sandwiches in the center, and your guests will have plenty of room to eat their food and sip their drinks. 

Remember that great hosting starts with great furniture. Baer’s has 16 furniture store locations throughout Florida. For a memorable holiday get-together, stop in at Baer’s today!

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